One of the best things about paying attention to how movies do at the box office is the thrill when a film no-one expected much from does better than expected. Actually, this is pretty much the only good thing about playing attention to how movies do at the box office, as mostly this kind of things just turns movies into something akin to sport, complete with people cheering on the latest Marvel movie to do well whether the movie itself is any good or not.
In fact, it’s even more depressing than actual sports, as often movies that are actually really good flame out at the box office for reasons no-one can really explain (and seriously, ignore anyone who tells you they know why a film tanked, because if they really knew why they could make a fortune in Hollywood instead of posting for free on internet forums).
I mean, Widows is obviously not everyone’s cup of tea but it definitely does have a lot going for it, so to write it off after one bad box office weekend (as many media outlets have already done) is a good way to make sure you miss out on a very entertaining, if occasionally flawed, film. But again, the upside of all this is when a film just about everyone wrote off as a dud ends up raking in a bunch of cash at the box office and yes, I’m looking at you Bohemian Rhapsody and before that Venom, and even before that The Meg, which is just now out on DVD and blu-ray.
Re-watching it now knowing it’s officially a hit (sequel talk, which would have been laughable before its release, is increasingly serious) really brings its good points to the fore: Jason Statham is (as always) a great lead, the giant shark stuff is reasonably well done, and the whole package is – as is also the case with Venom and Bohemian Rhapsody, and don’t think Hollywood hasn’t noticed – entertaining without being demanding in any way. In even the recent past this kind of fun but forgettable film would maybe have done ok at the box office but found its audience on home video; now that streaming has made watching movies outside of cinemas a lot harder (have you ever tried to find a film on Netflix that Netflix wasn’t pushing to the top of the queue?) it’s starting to look like the dumb fun audience is willing to check out the films that they want to see in cinemas. Which is pretty much the opposite of what everyone said would happen: the future of movies was meant to be giant spectacle-based films that cost a massive amount to give you amazing sights you simply couldn’t get on your TV screen.
Instead, if this year is any guide, the future is the same as the past. People occasionally like to just zone out in front of a decent film that does a lot of dumb obvious stuff in a reasonably entertaining way. I mean, just think if the giant shark in The Meg had actually got to chow down on a bunch of people in a spray of crowd-pleasing gore; it’d still be going in cinemas today.
Written by Anthony Morris